Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: 2-15-17

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.
I noticed years back that my classroom library was heavy on fiction. Since noticing the imbalance of fiction to nonfiction, I've remained on the lookout for engaging and diverse nonfiction titles. Here are some recent finds!

Preaching to the Chickens: The story of young John Lewis by Jabari Asim, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2016
32 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

A sweet telling of the early years of John Lewis' life, during which he finds his voice as a preacher among a feathery congregation.
Lewis grew into a leader of civil rights in American history, becoming a member of the Freedom Riders, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was the youngest member of the "Big Six."
After reading Lewis' memoire Asim became interested and drawn to Lewis, leading eventually to the creation of this story. I love introducing students to people, places, concepts and times through accessible picture books that both feed the mind and delight the eye. 
Certainly one to read aloud!

Crow Smarts: Inside the brain of the world's brightest birds by Pamela S. Turner
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
73 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

I'm lucky enough to teach fourth graders, an age when learning and discovery is a desire in most students. I read sections of this one aloud to my class, and found the writing to be engaging enough to sustain their attention (nonfiction can feel heavy at times). 
I want to share some major spoilers, my favorite take aways from this book, but I feel like I should leave them nestled in the pages for you to discover. There is no doubt that crows are clever, but these New Caledonian crows are pushing boundaries that excite scientist daily. 
Visit Crow Smarts for videos and additional and up-to-date information on these crafty problem solvers.

Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artist, and Won the Hearts of Everyone...While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent! by Emily Arnold McCully
Schwartz & Wade, 2016
Recommended for grades 2+

Imagine a 3-ton rhinoceros being carted around Europe in the 1700s?! Clara was adopted by a merchant marine, Van de Meer, who dreamed of striking it rich by parading Clara around (rhinos were considered mythical beasts at the time, and people would surely pay up to see her). Turns out that the amount of money it took to move and feed Clara often meant that Van de Meer himself went hungry, but the strength of their bond and the love of the lifestyle was worth it to him.
What a fun and fascinating piece of history. A quick google search will uncover pictures of this famous rhino that was an unknown to me until now!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Snow Day Monday! What Are You Reading? 2-13-17

Thanks to our dynamic hosts: Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kelle at Unleashing Readers. Head to either blog to find reviews as well as dozens of links to other blogs filled with reviews and recommendations!

The view outside is
snowy white.

I'm feeling incredibly grateful that my family is able to stay home, stay warm, and stay fed. I'm also feeling grateful for nap time, since without that snippet of a break, there would likely be no post today! So here goes a quick run through of my recent readings:

Books I've Recently Read:

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum, 2016
Realistic Fiction
181 pages
Recommended for grades 6+

Certainly pulls on the heartstrings, while also posing the question, are we doing enough for the kids in our lives? A healthy reminder to slow down and nurture the whole child, not just the student we are tasked with teaching. 

Loved it.

Little Cat's Luck by Marion Dane Bauer
Simon & Schuster, 2016
Poetic Narrative
240 pages
Recommended for grades 2-5

Remember that sweet novel in verse a few years back, Little Dog, Lost? This is the companion to that story, though stands 100% alone. I adore Little Dog, Lost and have even read it aloud to a couple groups of students. The stories are wonderfully different. There is no shying away from emotion in this short story, and in fact would be wonderful to read aloud and discuss with young readers.

Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016
48 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

So cool! The visuals are surprising in their values as statistics are compared in graphs and other images. And of course Jenkins is a master of cut paper illustrations! I kept taking breaks to turn to my husband to ask him if he knew this, or that! And of course I couldn't wait to bring it to school!

Matylda, Bright & Tender by Holly M. McGhee
Candlewick Press, 2017
Realistic Fiction
224 pages
Recommended for grades 3-5

Oh geeze, where to begin. Tissues, have your tissues handy. I've spent a lot of time just staring at the simple cover, wondering what words to use. I was transported back to one of my favorite childhood movies, My Girl. Many of the same feelings here. MANY. I did love this story, and I will be sharing it with those students that love emotional stories.

A Beginner's Guide to Immortality: From Alchemy to Avatars by Maria Birmingham, illustrated by Josh Holinaty
Owlkids Books, 2015
Recommended for grades 3+

A fun read on the human quest for living longer. From the wild and fantastic, to the scientific breakthroughs being worked on today. Fascinating information and short sections of text surrounded by lively illustrations will attract readers to this one!

Freedom Over Me: Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life by Ashley Bryan
Atheneum Books, 2016
56 pages
Recommended for grades 3+

Such a gorgeous book in words and images. The author's note and original document in the back of the book are powerful. The artistry in creating two contrasting types of poetry and imagery for each featured slave is well executed. From grays and earth tones on pages that describe the jobs and roles of the slaves, to a rainbow of vibrant hues when the poem changes to the dreams of the slave. 
A book I will surely be sharing with students for years to come.

I'm Currently Reading:

Currently Reading Aloud to My Class:

Thanks for stopping by!